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Energy Dept. Scales Back FutureGen CO2 Capture Project

Coal at a power plant (Sierra Club/Flickr)The St. Louis Business Journal reports today that the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has backed away from its original plan to build a new carbon sequestration facility in southern Illinois, choosing instead to retrofit an existing power plant in the same region. The new design, funded by a $1 billion Recovery Act grant, is expected to reduce the cost by billions of dollars.

In the revised plan, DoE will redevelop the Ameren Energy’s 200 megawatt oil-fired power plant in Meredosia, Illinois with advanced oxy-combustion technology, including a boiler, air separation unit, and CO2 purification and compression unit. They are expected to capture 90 percent of the CO2 and eliminate most sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury, and particulate emissions.

In Mattoon, Illinois — site of the original FutureGen plant — DoE will establish a regional CO2 storage facility. A 170-mile pipeline will carry an estimated 1 million tons of captured CO2 from Meredosia to Mattoon. It is expected to be the first in a regional network of pipelines carrying captured CO2.

Costs of the FutureGen project became a prime concern when two companies in the project — American Electric Power Co. and Southern Co. — dropped out because of the escalating price tag.

Update: The reconverted plant is oil-fired, not coal-fired as originally reported. And the pipeline will stretch 170 miles. See the New York Times story for more.

Photo: Sierra Club/Flickr

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